HC Deb 06 March 1972 vol 832 cc999-1000
1. Mr. Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on Great Britain's relations with Malta.

26. Mr. Mather

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on Her Majesty's Government's relations with Malta.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

The Prime Minister of Malta came to London on 4th March and has been having discussions with my right hon. and noble Friend the Defence Secretary. He will also be seeing my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. These discussions are held in a spirit of good will in a further endeavour to see whether a new defence agreement can be reached. The withdrawal of British forces from Malta is due to be completed in less than four weeks.

Mr. Fowler

While not wanting to press my right hon. Friend at this stage of the negotiations, may I ask whether he would not agree that the terms offered to Malta are not only in the interests of Britain and N.A.T.O. but also in the best long-term interests of Malta itself and that it would be a tragedy above all for Malta if those terms were rejected?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

On both counts I agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Mather

Has my right hon. Friend received an assurance that, in the event of no agreement being reached, the military facilities of Malta will be denied to Warsaw Pact Powers?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I had better not anticipate that no agreement will be reached. It would not be right to do so at the moment.

Mr. Healey

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Prime Minister will, contrary to some reports, be prepared to discuss the substance of the negotiations when he meets his Commonwealth colleague Mr. Mintoff?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, Sir, of course.

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